Pregnant women are being urged to book themselves in for antenatal care as soon as they find out they are expecting a baby as part of a major new campaign. The City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group (HCCG) Act Now campaign aims to highlight the benefits of an early visit to a doctor or self-referral to a midwife, which includes access to free prescriptions, dental care and vitamins, as well as free fresh food for some women under the Healthy Start programme.
Research shows that women who start their antenatal care early are more likely to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, with many problems or risk factors being less significant if identified and treated early on. Medical professionals can also monitor existing issues such as diabetes or weight problems.
Dr Kirsten Brown, GP and Clinical Lead for Maternity & Urgent Care, said: “The importance of early-pregnancy care cannot be underestimated. Visiting a doctor or midwife right at the start gives women the best possible chance of having a healthy pregnancy. Even if you have already had children, you should always aim to see a medical professional as soon as possible so that you are booked into the antenatal care system within the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.”
Your doctor or midwife will discuss your health including exercise and nutrition and can offer support if you smoke or drink alcohol. They will talk you through any tests that you might choose to have as well as help you to make plans for the birth of your baby. All appointments are strictly confidential.
If are pregnant and are not registered with a doctor, or would rather self-refer, you can call the Hackney Maternity Helpline on 020 8510 5955. The helpline is staffed by qualified midwives who can also answer questions relating to your pregnancy and signpost you to other services.